Throughout Advent we have travelled with Mary and Joseph on their journey, compelled by government order into the unknown. This Christmas, we find ourselves at the end of yet another year that has caused us to reimagine many of our Christmas traditions, yearning once again to be together. As a result of the rise of the Omicron variant, we have made the decision not to gather in-person on Christmas Eve.
This year's Christmas Eve service will take place exclusively online. You can participate in the service (including a live chat) through our website at www.valhallaparish.ca/live.
On December 21, 2021 Archbishop Lynne McNaughton distributed a pastoral letter to all parishes in the diocese that says, in part:
After consultation with senior leadership in the Diocese, and with a heavy heart knowing the disappointment this will cause, I have made the difficult decision to cancel all in-person worship services in the Diocese and move to on-line worship only, effective immediately. This is a preventative measure in the face of the threat to our public health system created by the shocking speed of the spread of the Omicron variant. We need to be part of a cooperative effort to once again “flatten the curve”...
...I know we are tired. I know this is hard. However, we realize that our health care workers are exhausted, and we do not want them to bear more stress. We are being called to draw on the grace and strength of God, to find reserves of compassion for our unseen neighbours, to find the patience to deal with our own frustrations at this situation, to be generous and energetic as we continue to minister to those in need.
In this time, we know that we are not alone.
We travel the road with one another, to be sure, but also with the God we know as Emmanuel, God With Us. And, with each passing day, we journey towards the light. Yesterday was the longest night of the year. By Christmas morning, the growing light will become noticeable.
Like the light that grows, may we be assured of God's presence with and love for us, for it is true that God journeys with and amongst us—even in the darkest of nights.
We are reminded at this time of year that God is as close as the nearest breath, and as majestic as the night sky. God journeys with us on the road, and is born amongst us as a baby. In need of love and care, of nourishment and touch and relationship, God shows up. And we respond in kind, for we need such things too.
As we return to our homes for a season, we do so knowing both that God is present with us and that in response to God's invitation to embody deep love for our neighbours. In these days, as the light grows, and as our awareness of God's love grows strong, may we continue to pray for one another and for the world, that all may know the love of God, evermore and evermore.